I thought about writing this post six months ago — “the recipes that got us through quarantine” — but it hasn’t ended.
For a couple that use to eat in a restaurant at least three times a week, it’s truly crazy to think we can count on two hand the amount of times we’ve eaten at a restaurant, let alone inside one since March.
We went through cooking and eating ruts where nothing sounded good and boiling water seem like too much effort. Nonetheless, our hungry pangs were fed and our dishwasher has never been busier. These recipes (in no particular order) have permanently found their way into our rotation:
- Turkey Larb Bowls with homemade pickles (larb by What’s Gaby Cooking)
- Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas with feta (via Food52)
- Brined and butter basted pork chops (thanks to Bon Appetit for the cooking method)
- Sausage, cherry tomato, garlic pasta (photo above, recipe follows)
- Smoked ribs (a husband speciality)
- Stir fry and fried rice — great way to use up proteins and veggies before restocking
- Sheet pan nachos and tacos
- Meatballs: BBQ, Buffalo, banh mi, red sauce, etc.
- Chicken Trough from Eat What You Want by Gaby Dalkin
- Lunch special: bagged Asian salad topped with chopped chicken nuggets and a hoisin drizzle (inspired by the chopped Asian salad at California Pizza Kitchen)
It hasn’t quite been the time in the kitchen I expected. Apparently living through a global pandemic is exhausting and not very inspiring. It was nice to have these favorites, plus frozen and pantry staples like chicken nuggets, Trader Joe’s orange chicken, boxed Mac and cheese (basically anything a 5-year-old would eat) to fall back on.
When we need a break from cooking, we try to support local restaurants by ordering takeout. Wednesdays, a notoriously crazy day at the office (virtual or not), turned in Sushi Wednesday and Fridays typically now feature a deli lunch. Sundays are still for Game Day Foods, occasionally homemade. I think we tried all the wings and Chinese restaurants within our apartments delivery radius on the apps.
One dish above has truly stuck out a quarantine win. It came from a mix of techniques, methods and recipes from all over … Instagram. I’ve refined it to be an easy-don’t-know-what-else-to-cook, but also craveable, weeknight meal.
Sausage, cherry tomato & garlic pasta
Serves 2 for dinner
- 1/2 pound of rigatoni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound of sausage, mix of sweet and hot Italian
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 gloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 white wine or chicken stock (or pasta water)
- 1/2 of grated Pecorino or Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoons of butter
- Salt and pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta one minute shy of directions on the box. It’ll get the final minute once mixed with the sauce. Reserve some pasta water when draining.
- While the pasta cooks, heat a large skillet or sauté pan (I like to use my Le Creuset braiser) with a two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and season with a generous pinch of salt and few cracks of black pepper. Cook 3 minutes until starting to burst.
- Add sliced garlic. Cook another 3 minutes uncle garlic has softened and is fragrant.
- Add wine or chicken stock, scraping up anything that has stuck of the bottom of the pan. Stir those nibbles into the sauce.
- Once the tomatoes have fully cooked down and jammed with the sausage and garlic, add pasta and toss to coat.
- Finish with pecorino and butter, tossing until fully incorporated. Use reserved pasta water to thin the sauce and help with the tossing, if necessary.
Serve in a big bowl with additional cheese. Perfectly acceptable to eat on the couch while watching The West Wing (or which ever show we are currently streaming).